Namibia on brink of classic debt trap - PDM

08 April 2021 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Nico Smit says the Namibian economy is being dragged down by the Swapo administration and the country is rapidly turning into a second Zimbabwe.

Smit, who is the PDM shadow finance minister, said the Swapo government has failed on its promises to solve its budget problems since 2016.

“Our economy is dragged down, not by exogenous factors - as we are so often expected to believe - but by Swapo's intransigence to face reality and to bring the country's financial house in order. We only survive because we live on borrowed money. The government has now really become the elephant in the room, devouring every last little bit of economic life that may be generated by the private sector,” he said.

Speaking in the National Assembly last week, Smit said the government’s accountability report seems to contain fabricated figures and gives no indication how government “squanders” tax money through “sheer incompetence and widespread wastage”.

“Somehow the accountants in the President's Office have managed to balance their expense account to the cent of the N$77 million allocated. The same wizardry happened at the ministry of higher education, training and innovation. They managed this feat on a N$25 986 000 budget, also to the cent. And the biggest praise must go to the accountants of the National Planning Commission, where the reconciled N$80 842 000 matches to the cent of the allocated amount.

“Furthermore, the ministry of information and communication technology came to within N$20 000 on a N$21.4 million budget. Now, any one of you who knows how to keep books will know that that is virtually impossible. When figures like these are presented, it is patently obvious that they are thumb-sucked,” he said.

Looting

Smit went on to say that development budgets are viewed as piggy banks that can be looted to balance the books where operational budgets fall short.

According to him, there is nothing in the budget that shows that the finance ministry had gone back to the drawing board to redesign the country’s economic future or to come up with a new plan to restore the economy.

“No one can claim that he or she was ignorant regarding the true state of the economy and the risks that we are facing. This not only pertains to our flawed budgets, but also to how we monitor spending and how many ministries and departments have failed to adhere to the officially-prescribed accounting standards and practices,” he said.

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